Knight of the 'Net

Paul Robinson paul at iconoplex.co.uk
Sat Jan 3 16:33:40 GMT 2004


Before I begin, this mail has got longer than expected. Apologies. If 
somebody tells me to shut up, I will. :-)

Peter McGarvey wrote:

>IIRC, the list of them that refused honours was leaked.  And surely to
>
Well, whilst trying to find the original article from the Sunday Times, 
I instead came across this:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-944832,00.html

I also found an article about MI6 admitting to running Operation Mass 
Appeal as well, which you might all be interested in, but that's for 
another time.

>Well, I'm too lazy to leave the country.  But I'm giving serious
>consideration to writing to my MP demanding the right to be officialy
>disenfranchised.
>

There was an article in this week's Spectator (don't beat me up - I read 
all the political and news weeklys I get time to, I'm not an 
anti-liberal nutcase, honest) one of the regular writers tells why he is 
moving to France this month. It all comes down to a false sense of 
nationalism, although he doesn't realise it. You were born here and so 
are told that this is "your country" and that God Save the Queen is 
"your anthem". Of course, this is all man-made nonsense created by the 
state in the middle ages as a tool of control to convince people to go 
to war to save the land of some nobles. But amazingly, people still 
believe in it. See, I told you I was a liberal really. :-)

>I'm of the opinion that the Lottery should be used for picking the
>monarch, every five years or so.  I'd also make voting compulsory (fined
>a day's wages if you don't), make polling day a public holiday, and add
>a box at the bottom of the ballot paper saying "NO VOTE" for them that
>don't wish to participate.
>
You've got me started now. I promise, when I started writing this e-mail 
it was going to be a 10-line e-mail. But, seeing as this has come up, 
here you go. If anybody tells us to shut up, we'll just have to move 
off-list, but I think the people on this list are intelligent types with 
an interest in this kind of thing.

People concentrate on the monarch as a problem, when in fact it is far 
from being the problem - it a symptom. I'd recommend before looking at a 
republican state that some other changes are required first:

Compulsory voting forces politicians to move to the lowest common 
denominator. In this country, that would involve a strong push to the 
right and facism followed by a counter-move to the extreme left. In 
short: disaster. Whether you believe in hard-left or hard-right politics 
is irrelevant. Everybody agrees very strong swings like this lead to all 
sorts of problems.

In Australia, where voting is compulsory, they're starting to see an 
emergent swing that will, in 20 years, probably get quite nasty. As it 
is, they're a middle-of-the-road crowd and so it can still be avoided 
with some moderation, but here in the UK where the Facist Party and the 
Socialist Party stand side-by-side on issues like globalisation but are 
happy to go at each other's necks on everything else, and both sides 
have support...  well, I don't expect it would be pretty.

The problems around low turnout are nothing to do with apathy but rather 
a breakdown in political polarisation. Historically you were either 
left-wing or right-wing. You could look at what your parents voted, or 
pick a package from a party and sidle up to them and vote for life. 
Since the dawn of Thatcherite New Labour, such polarisation isn't 
possible. People instead find themselves saying "Well, I like Labour's 
Health policy, but I like the Tory ideal of small government and the Lib 
Dems education package is good, and the Green Party are right about the 
environment...." but you can only vote for one.

People then see politicians on the TV claiming that their party is right 
about everything and everybody else is stupid, witness childlike 
squabbling and decide that whoever they vote for, they're going to feel 
disappointed afterwards because they are going to be lucky to get just 
25% of what they wanted. Result: they don't vote. Proporitonal 
representation and e-voting are seen as the golden egg of turnout 
issues, but instead they enforce polarisation and apathy respectively.

So, what you actually want is for politicians to become less polarised 
and affiliated with a party message, and instead be a true 
representative of you and the rest of the local constituency. Acheivable 
in two ways:

1. Get rid of political parties, everybody stands as an independent at 
election. The local representatives discuss through the traditional 
campaigning dialogue with the constituency what their own beliefs are, 
and the constituents choose who they feel is best for the job.

The week after the general election an internal vote is held by all 
those elected to parliament for the person they feel the Queen should 
invite to form a Government as Prime Minister (at the moment she just 
invites the leader of the party with the most seats). In a republican 
democracy, obviously, this is a point that would need some 
consideration. With the Queen making an invite, the candidate still has 
the right to refuse by law... the constitution is a mess in this regard.

2. Much less radical is to keep the political parties for people to 
affiliate themselves with, but abondon use of the party whips. This 
allows for voters to roughly understand where a candidate's politics 
lie, but without that politician on election at risk of causing a 
hulabaloo in the press every time they rebel at the division, or even 
worse, a senior member of the party decides to become a rebel teller....

Right, rant over, but I thought you might like an alternative idea to 
mull over before the Manchester BSD UG on Tuesday.

You'd never guess I really wanted to read Politics at Cambridge but 
chose Software Engineering at UMIST for the money instead, would you? :-)

-- 
Paul Robinson






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